Mandalay Lake Villa

Mandalay Lake Villa Claimed

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Mandalay Lake

The resplendent isle as Sri Lanka is commonly known holds many treasures within her sandy shores. From the lush green tea plantations, to the arid dry zone nature reserves, the historic Kandyan kingdom and the pristine beaches that line the coast, travelers have many an option to pick from when it comes to holidaying in this little island we call home.


And yet, there still remains many undiscovered places that serve up a very different experience of Sri Lanka. Although hotspots like Galle, Unawatuna, Mirissa and even Matara are inundated with tourists all year round, there are also a few more places along the coastline that are waiting to dish out the best of Southern hospitality. During a journey to discover such places, we came across Mandalay Lake Villa on the banks of the very river that the great Martin Wickremasinghe was once inspired by.


Although the villa is a few kilometers off the main Galle Road, it isn’t difficult to find. Most of the locals know the place well and are more than happy to direct you. Traveling from Colombo, we took the Expressway bus to Galle and then hailed a PickMe from there to Koggala. Surprisingly the PickMe drivers in the South are a lot nicer than most in Colombo!


Getting to Mandalay, we were welcomed by the owner India herself along with her small team who meticulously run this 4-room villa. There are also 3 four-legged friends who are super friendly and add to the welcome with wagging tails and wondrous eyes. We made friends immediately!


After a refreshing welcome drink topped with an exotic orchid grown in Mandalay’s large garden, we were given a short tour around the property and escorted to our room by Chinthaka who doubles as the Manager and celebrated Executive Chef of the property.


Our room spanned the entire top floor and sported an open plan with one corner occupied by the toilet, shower and bathtub, while the other corner was dedicated to a large writing table and chair. This side of the room also opened up to a balcony overlooking the lake and was perfect for curling up with a book and watching the sunset.


One other thing you could do while watching the sun set over the lake is actually sit out on the edge of the lake on sun beds and take in the natural surroundings while enjoying Chinthaka’s Club Sandwiches. As if that wasn’t enough food, Chinthaka prepared his signature rice and curry served on a banana leaf for us to savor.


At night the villa is super quiet except the sounds of the lake waves that gently caress the banks and the rustle of the bamboo trees. If you opt to stay up late Mandalay has Cable TV in a common area to all three rooms in the main room, tons of books to read, a DVD cabinet and board games too. Ensure that you keep your doors and windows well locked as the garden has tons of nocturnal and day time visitors.


Waking up at the break of dawn, we caught the first rays of sunshine over the lake and the fishermen going out for the day’s a catch. Mandalay also has its own pool where you can take an early morning dip while breakfast is prepared. In true Southern style the first meal of the day is a grand affair where Chinthaka goes all out with plates of fresh tropical fruit artfully cut, and a gamut of Southern delicacies from Pol Rotti to String Hoppers and Pittu to Hoppers. Together with the fiery sambals and the must-have Dhal and Chicken curry the meal was so fulfilling that we couldn’t have asked for more. Be warned though that if you visit Mandalay on a local full moon poya holiday, the kitchen will tell you that they do not prepare meat. Also things like soft drinks need to be pre-ordered if required as Mandalay does not stock too much.


Later on in the day we also had a cooking demonstration where Chinthaka prepared his version of the famous Dhal curry which gets its distinct flavour from the secret recipe curry powder that he refused to divulge much on. We didn’t really mind because it tasted great.


One of the best things about Mandalay is the calm serenity that the property exudes. It’s an ideal place for families or even for a small destination wedding where the large garden can be utilized to create a magical setting. Hospitality is also key at this home run place where the staff take care of the place and its guests like their own.


So here’s our review…


Location         ***     (A little off the main road but not hard to find!)

Ambiance       ****   (Calm and serene!)

Service           ****   (India and the staff are super nice!)

Food               ***     (Great Southern-inspired Sri Lankan food!)

Overall                       *** ½



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